Rachel Hipp

Published on:

April 12, 2017

Animal Rights Activist Profile: Sarah Hewson

Q: What inspired you to first get involved with activism and to join DxE?

I chose at a very young age to stop participating in most animal exploitation. However, most of my life, I didn’t personally know anyone else who made these lifestyle changes or felt that it was wrong to use nonhuman animals for unnecessary purposes. So, I had no vision of global animal liberation and no expectation that I could convince many people to see things from my perspective. There was no internet at this time and very few ways for me to connect with like-minded people. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I accidentally stumbled on some vegan Facebook groups and met someone who directly challenged why I wasn’t involved with activism. As I was processing that, that same person posted a video of a huge group of DxE activists singing songs of liberation in public places. I have always been inspired by the way music communicates ideas and emotions in a way spoken words cannot. And seeing such a large group of people united by their passion for animal liberation immediately motivated me to find out if there was a DxE chapter near me. I sought this out at just the right time because some absolutely awe-inspiring organizers were just coming back from the DxE forum and were ready to start a Colorado revolution. What kept me coming back to these local gatherings was DxE’s 40-year strategic plan for animal liberation. This was the first group to tell me that animal liberation was actually possible. That changed my thinking from despair to hope and my actions from avoidance to direct and daily action.

Q: What is your favorite or most accomplished moment in activism or other DxE activity?

I’ve been a part of so many incredible actions in the last year, but my favorite moment was at a community event last fall. We filled the room with potential activists and one of the organizers was sharing a history lesson and relating it to the 40-year plan I mentioned. There was just this critical moment when I got chills looking around the room and realizing I was likely sitting in a gathering of activists who were going to bend the arc of history toward justice (paraphrased MLK quote). Now, even many of my most mundane daily tasks incorporate a message of antispeciesism, veganism, or animal liberation. I will be 73 in 40 years. I’ve vowed not to die until animal liberation is achieved. I don’t really want to live forever, so I need to work on this every day. And I’m happy to, because the meaning and purpose this goal has brought to my life makes getting through each day 100 times easier.

Q: Are you a part of any working groups or unique activism in your chapter and how do they influence your activism?

Within my chapter, I have worked mostly with the activism working group and occasionally with other working groups. I’ve enjoyed collaborating on creative ways to spread our message. I’ve also started organizing gatherings of “DxE Kids and their Significant Adults”. My son goes with me to most activism activities and I’ve found ways to make them a positive experience for him. By connecting with other activists with children in their lives, I hope to make them feel more comfortable bringing children to events and also to brainstorm with them ways that children can spread a message of animal liberation.

Q: How does your life experience of being a teacher, a mom, and having a child with autism influence you?

Being a teacher and a mom of a special needs child takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. It was another reason I never really considered doing activism until recently. I felt that there was no way to work that into my schedule. However, these roles were great prep work for me. As a teacher, I am constantly involved in addressing issues of gender, race, class, ability, etc. The more I learned, the more important these social justice issues became to me. And it is clear to me that antispeciesism is the next social justice movement and many of the same issues I’ve learned about in other movements apply in this context as well. My job has also taught me a lot about effective and creative communication, which is so important for activists to consider. Having a child has deeply connected me to the emotion of what animals go through daily- in particular, the special connection of breastfeeding your baby and the horror of a cow’s baby being taken away and her milk being unnecessarily given to a human. Having a child with autism has helped me to grow stronger in questioning social norms and traditions and also valuing the variety of ways an animal- human or nonhuman- can express love, joy, fear, and pain. Sharing my personal connections seems to have an effect on people who would usually ignore my more general messages.

Q: What advice would you give to new activists?

Find ways to make your activism your own. Consider your strengths and interests and turn them into a form of activism. Your passion will then often be too hard to ignore by those who know you and have previously dismissed your message. Also, if possible, be sure to spend time in a supportive community where antispeciesism is the norm. That peek into the future will keep you motivated to create an antispeciesist world.

Q: Why Animal Liberation?

Animals are here with us, not for us. I wish to create a world where each of us is free to explore our own purposes, rather than simply serving someone else’s purpose. Freedom is the very least we should be giving to other animals, regardless of their arbitrary differences. Love, support, and appreciation of other animals and their differences should be the ultimate goal.

Want to get involved? DxE is a grassroots network focused on empowering you to be the best activist you can be. Here are some steps you can take. 

  1. Sign up to our mailing list and share our content on social media. 
  2. Join a local DxE community (or, better yet, come visit us in Berkeley).
  3. Take the Liberation Pledge. And join us in building a true social movement for animals.